Archive for January, 2011

Broccoli and its other vegetable cousins have for long been associated with cancer obstruction. Experiments done hitherto have showed that broccoli can stop the growth of cancer but not much was known as to how.

But now the scientists have stumbled on to a key ingredient that appears to be the reason why broccoli is so effective. A potential biochemical basis has been discovered by a team of scientists. It is, apparently, this biochemical basis that lends broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables the cancer-fighting ability.

Fung-Lung Chung and his team showed that broccoli and its veggie cousins contain substances called isothiocyanates (or ITCs) that apparently stops cancerous cells from growing. However, it was not known exactly how these substances work. But now some new interesting findings have surfaced which may prove vital to developing improved strategies for fighting cancer in humans.

The tumor suppressor gene p53 is, supposedly, the key player in keeping cells healthy and preventing them from starting the abnormal cancerous growth. During mutation this gene p53 does not offer this protection and these mutations take place in 50% of all human cancers.

The new report suggests that ITCs may be working by targeting this gene. This report appears in the ACS’ Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and may prove to be highly effective in prevention and treatment of cancer in the future.

The scientists carefully examined the effect of ITCs on various cancer cells including lung, breast and colon cancer with and without the defective tumour suppressor gene. The findings suggested that the ITCs could effectively remove the defective p53 protein. Though it is too early to conclude anything with finality, in the long run drugs based on natural or custom-built ITCs may help to combat various forms of cancer.


Researchers from Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) have identified a new enzyme that affects radiation response in patients suffering from head and neck cancer. PMH researchers have made a discovery that may be significant in controlling the side effects for cancer patients. They have discovered that targeting an enzyme called Uroporphyrinogen Decarboxylase (UROD) can sensitize diseased tissue to radiation and chemotherapy.

UROD has been identified as a key ingredient in human cancers and the study suggests that targeting UROD can selectively enhance the effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy in cancerous tumors of head and neck while minimizing toxicity to normal tissues. These findings have been published in Science Translational Medicine.

Chief investigator, Dr. Fei-Fei Liu (Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Toronto and PMH, and Senior Scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute and The Campbell Family Cancer Research Institute) states that analysis of patient biopsies disclosed that UROD levels were higher in tumor tissues than in the normal ones. UROD can be used to make a general prediction of how will a patient respond to radiation therapy since the cancer patients with lower UROD levels prior to radiation treatment had improved clinical outcome.

Dr. Emma states that lower doses of radiation and chemotherapeutic drugs could be administered to cancer patients without affecting the treatment efficacy. Dr. Liu says that UROD is an enzyme that participates in production of a molecule called heme that is vital to all body organs. Targeting UROD creates an opportunity to exploit the heme synthesis pathway that disrupts the equilibrium of iron and free radical levels in cells which thereby kills cancer cells.


A new study has shown that women with both breast cancer and diabetes have a high risk of mortality than their non-diabetic counterparts. Breast cancer itself is a very deadly disease but a diabetic woman increases her chances of dying if she also has breast cancer.

A study shows that breast cancer women who have diabetes are 50 percent more likely to die than those who don’t have diabetes. However, a lot remains unexplained since the data doesn’t specify the cause of death. Author Dr. Kimberly Peairs states that the study shows that there may be a higher association between diabetes and breast cancer mortality than was previously believed.

This study has been published in the latest issue of Journal of Clinical Oncology and has been supported by grants from U.S. National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Though the exact reason of high mortality in such case is not yet known, there are various possible explanations. For instance, one study suggests that women who had type 2 diabetes were likely to have their breast cancer diagnosed later than their non-diabetic counterpart. Besides, diabetic women may tend to respond less to chemotherapy drugs or their physicians may not provide them with aggressive treatment fearing concern for their health. Insulin intake may also be responsible for a greater growth in breast cancer tumor.

Diabetes is a widespread ailment with 8% of adult population being affected by it in US in 2007. Research suggests that diabetics are also prone to higher risk of breast cancer. To keep diabetes away, women are advised to keep their BMI at under 25. And those who have been diagnosed with diabetes must ensure that they control their blood sugar levels.


Middle Tennessee Medical Center is urging the women folk to get tested for cervical cancer. January is dedicated as the Cervical Cancer Screening Month and regular screening is the best way to combat this dreaded disease.

There are basically two tests that determine if the person has cervical cancer or not- the Pap test and the HPV test. The Pap test or Pap smear is directed towards preventing cervical cancer. It looks for precancerous cells that might become cervical cancer if left untreated. Dr. Kelly Williams, a MTMC physician states that it is recommended (by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) that woman undertake an annual examination beginning at age 21.

Pap test is the main test for cervical cancer but another test called the HVP test proves to be helpful at times. HPV or Human Papilloma Virus test looks for the said virus and this test can also be used to find the presence of the virus which causes cellular changes. HPV test is generally used to screen women who are in the age group 30 and above. But it is also used to detect the presence of virus in women who have unclear Pap test results.

There is a vaccine called HPV vaccine that is a big positive leap for medical science since it provides immunity against the virus. This vaccine is recommended for women from the age 9 to 26. Dr. Kelly Williams stresses that the HPV vaccine is a major advancement for preventing cervical cancer worldwide.

Cervical cancer awareness is a positive endeavor by the MTMC since many women fall prey to this ailment. As per an estimate by the National Cancer Institute, 12,200 women would be diagnosed and 4,210 women would die of it in 2010 alone.


If you are obese or if you indulge in alcoholism, then you pose yourself at a higher risk of cancer. If the scientists and specialists are to be believed then one may surmise that being over-weight and consuming alcohol is absolutely suicidal.

According to World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), UK and other high income countries report high rates of cancer because the citizens of these countries report low physical activity, higher cases of obesity and over-indulgence in alcohol.

UK has been placed at 22nd position in cancer rate with nearly 267 people diagnosed out of 100,000. But UK ranks higher at 11th position when it comes to breast cancer. Breast cancer has long been associated with excess body fat and alcohol consumption, hence the 11th rank of UK for breast cancer hints at a direct relationship between the disease and the UK women’s indulgence in alcohol.

Research has shown that women who drink on a regular basis are more likely to develop breast cancer than their non-drinking counterparts. Besides drinking, smoking is another factor which has been directly linked to various forms of cancer. For instance, Denmark has the highest rate of cancer and it is no surprise since a huge chunk of the Danish women is addicted to cigarette and alcohol.

Professor Martin Wiseman, medical and scientific adviser for WCRF, states that UK and other high-income countries report high cancer rates because of the lifestyle of the people. Physical activity, healthy consumption and abstinence from alcohol and smoking are some of the preventive measures that one can take to keep cancer at bay. So, the citizens of UK and other high-income countries need to alter their lifestyles significantly in order to combat this dreaded ailment.


Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease that, as per the estimation of National Cancer Institute, has affected more than 43,000 Americans in 2010. And the fact that 36,000 died from it does not help matter either.

Though genetic science has advanced by leaps and bounds over the years, scientists are still at a loss to unravel the complex signaling pathway that pancreatic cancer takes in humans.

But a new study has thrown some light on the same. A team of researchers have resorted to a simple organism (a common roundworm) and discovered how the Ras oncogene chooses a signaling pathway and how the consequences of that choice play out in cellular development. This is a significant issue in cancer that is characterized by uncontrolled cell growth.

The team leader Channing Der explains that the cell signaling pathways are very complex in humans. Ras can opt to interact with more than 20 various partners besides the chief proteins Raf and RalGEF. In C. elegans, there is only one of each protein. This eased out the complexity and helped the researchers identify how Ras chooses a partner.

They found that Ras’ choices lead to different fates for the cell. It can help them identify if similar mechanisms work in determining how Ras causes pancreatic cancer. ‘Worm’ cells share a good deal of functional overlap with the cells of humans. Nevertheless, in a roundworm there is only one mechanism at work contrary to multiple mechanisms in humans. But the C. elegans model may be instrumental in helping the scientists find new therapeutic targets for pancreatic cancer.


Breast cancer is one dreaded ailment that poses risk to all women- older as well as younger. The modern day woman is acquainted with the consequences of a breast lump. Hence, it is vital to know some tips that may help you avoid breast cancer. Here is a special feature:

Food and diet: Experts recommend that you consume food that is organically grown. Besides organic food, it is advisable that you opt for fresh produce since it is high in anti-oxidants which are responsible for preventing cancer. And speaking of food consumption, berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries) are regarded as breast-friendly food since they contain ellagic acid that fights carcinogen. Also, consumption of broccoli, cauliflower and other green leafy vegetables are recommended.

Tap water contains chlorine. Hence, it is advisable to drink filtered mineral water. And do include some turmeric (in food or through capsules) in your diet since it is known to kill cancerous cells and fight many other body ailments.

Hygiene: Hygiene is another important factor to take into account in your endeavor to prevent breast cancer. While using tampons and sanitary napkins, it is recommended that you go for the ones made of organic cotton minus the chlorine. Even while buying toilet tissues, tampons and napkins, it is best to go for the unbleached ones so as to minimize exposure to dioxin. For household cleaning and laundry, use hydrogen peroxide instead of the conventional chlorine since hydrogen peroxide easily decomposes into water and oxygen. Try to minimize the use of pesticides and herbicides while gardening. Also stay away from antiperspirants and use only the natural underarm deodorants.

Lifestyle: Adapt a kind of lifestyle that will help you cut down glucose and fat building in your body. Include lots of exercise and walking in your daily routine. Stress and depression should be avoided since it makes the body prone to ailment. Sun baths, at times, is recommended as Vitamin D helps prevent metastatic process and thereby prevent breast cancer.


Radon is a toxic gas that is present in atmosphere in free state in trace amounts. You may be living in a posh home in a suburban area but ignore radon at your own peril! Radon can heavily affect your lungs and may make you a patient of lung cancer.

Hence, it is important to know a thing or two about radon’s presence in your house. Iowa is a small state located in the heart of America and it is trying to spread awareness for radon testing. The Iowa Department of Public Health is endeavoring to make people realize the significance of home testing for radon.

Reportedly, Iowa is a region most heavily affected by radon gas. Hence, the citizens of the state are being told to get their houses tested. Gail Orcutt, a lung cancer survivor, is playing a vital role in this endeavor.

Resident of Pleasant Hill, Gail Orcutt was diagnosed with lung cancer last year and had to have her left lung surgically removed. Later she learned about radon poisoning from an article and got her 18-year home tested. The test showed that she was exposed to a higher-than-normal level of radon.

Health officials have suggested that 7 out of 10 houses in Iowa may have higher radon levels. Rick Welke, the state’s Radon Manager Program, says that radon can collect inside any type structure and hence, some states legally require any new construction to be radon resistant.

Gail Orcutt is now working towards (with the aid of the Iowa Radon Coalition) establishing a similar law in the state. As far as radon testing is concerned, the experts recommend that one must get his/her house checked every 2 years. The test kits are available in most hardware stores.


Early detection of Breast Cancer is good and subsequently results in better treatment with better results and total cure. However, there are huge drawbacks and pitfalls when the mammogram makes false positive diagnosis.

A study published in British Journal of Surgery suggests that wrongly diagnosed women suffer from depression and anxiety and have to lead a reduced quality of life for as much as one year. Though breast cancer screening has its benefits, women who receive false-positive results tend to go under a shell and lead a low quality of life.

At times, the mammogram may show a positive result (even if cancerous cells are absent) which makes the person concerned enter a depressive phase of life. Hence, the physicians the world over are endeavoring to caution womanhood of this pitfall of breast screening.

Researchers from Netherlands had a brief interaction with 385 women who were detected with abnormal mammogram. Out of them, 152 later got diagnosed with cancer but the remaining 233 had false-positive results and were not home to cancerous cells.

Women with abnormal mammograms had their Quality of Life (QoL) assessed with the major factors being their physical health, psychological health, level of independence, social relationships, environment and spirituality.

Women with false-positive were found to be having a low QoL . These women suffered intense anguish, anxiety and depression until further diagnosis showed that they don’t have cancer. At times, this phase of anxiety may go up to a span of 1 year and significantly alter the life style of the victims.

Dr Dr Lideke van der Steeg from the Department of Surgery, St Elisabeth Hospital, Tilburg, and the Centre of Research and Psychology in Somatic Diseases, Tilburg University says that often, women overestimate the risk of breast cancer. They need to be furnished with more balanced information that would give them the choice of whether or not to accept a breast screening invitation.


Researchers from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry have joined hands to become a vital part of a group from some of the prime institutions to raise a 4.7 million pound Policy Research Unit. This endeavor has been directed towards achievement of early cancer screening and diagnosis.

The funding shall be led by Queen Mary University of London and is provided over 5 years by the Department of Health. Some of the other institutes that are included in this endeavor include Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Kings College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Hull York Medical School and the University of Durham.

Policy Research Unit aims to curb down the threat of late cancer diagnosis and targets better survival rates by early screenings and therefore better treatment. UK, presently, suffers from poor cancer survival rate and is behind some of other European countries in this regard.

The following shall be the sphere of activity of Policy Research Unit:

1.     Meticulous study of cancer survival and cancer awareness

2.     Study of GP response to cancer symptoms

3.     Expanding case control estimation of benefits of cervical screening programme to the breast and bowel screening programmes

4.     Assessing interventions to increase cancer awareness

5.     Improvise access to cancer screenings

6.     Help increase cases of early cancer diagnosis

Researchers from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry shall commence by making an examination of breast, uterus and cervix cancers and identify symptoms that are significant and should attract the attention of a general physician.

Next, the researchers shall quantify these symptoms by providing them a percentage risk. A research service to the Department of Health shall also be provided.